Diwali - Dipavali - Dip dan - Akash dipa

The Diwali Period:
Narak Chaturdasi:
Laxmi puja:
Amavasya - Diwali night:
Govardhan puja - Annakuta:
Bhaidhuj - Bali Daitya Raj puja:

More information on Diwali period:
Srila Prabhupad on Diwali:

A nice overview; an 18 days Guide, from Dhan Teras to Deva Divali:

Examples from various shastra regarding the merit and glories of Diwali

Vrata for Damodar - Kartik month

EVERYTHING related to festivals and observances in the month of Kartik HERE

Karva Chauth links (when married women do pujas for the well-being of their husbands)


The Diwali Period.
The story goes that Hanuman was sent by Rama to Ayodhya the day before Rama's arrival as prearranged with Bharat to let the residents of Ayodhya know how Sita and Rama and all Their retinue were returning.

This was five days before Diwali, and after the Vijaya dasami (victory of Rama ) celebration.

King Dashrath ruled the rich and prosperous city of Ayodhya.  He had three wives and Kaikayi was his favourite.  She saved his life in a war at a very crucial time.  Dashrath granted her two favours for saving his life.

Dashrath had four sons.  Rama, the oldest, was everybody's favourite.  He was married to the beautiful and devoted Sita.  Just before Ram's coromation, Kaikayi reminded Dashrath of her two favors.  She told him to crown Bharat as king and to banish Ram to the jungle for fourteen years.  Her wishes were granted.

The old king Dashrath later died of a broken heart. After a few years in the forest, Sita was lured by the demon king Ravana.  Rama, with the help of a monkey general, Hanuman, rescued Sita and defeated Ravana. After fourteen years in exile Ram and Sita and returned to Ayodhya.

It is in Their honor that "Diwali" is celebrated.  "Diwali" signifies the victory of good over evil.

Today in India for Diwali all the shops are decorated brightly.  Many people make "rangoli"  in their house or outside.  They are filled to capacity in this festive season.  Everybody buys new things and decorates their homes.  People visit their friends and relatives and give them sweets. On Diwali friends come over for the whole day and relatives come and go.  Everyone has a wonderful time celebrating the return of Sita and Rama. Thus Diwali has become a day when all the sad things of the past are forgotten and happy times are remembered.

The famous slOkam on DhIpAvaLi is:

thailE LAKSHMEE: JalE  GANGAA dhIpAvaLi dhinE vasEth
alakshmI parihArArTam abhyangasnAnam aacharEth
Tatha Aabharanam vasthram dharEyEth sarvasampadhE

(meaning): On the early morning of DhIpAvaLi (before Sunrise of KrishNa Paksha Chathurthi of Iypaasi Month ), MahA LakshmI resides in oil and GangA Devi stays in the waters. For the sake of chasing away poverty / inauspiciousness, One should take an oil bath and wash oneself with hot water and thereafter wear new clothes. This is refered to in more detail below.

See the Kartika Mahatmya from Hari Bhakti Vilas for the benefits of offering lamps in the month of Kartik.

See also typical Diwali foodstuffs offerings:

Send Diwali Cards from HERE:

More e-cards HERE

Please continue to scroll down to see the other days in the Diwali fesitval season..........


1st day - Yam:
Generally people place one lamp out in the Southern direction.
Pray to Yamaraj to request the shakti to complete all your tasks, fulfill your life and then safely return home.


2nd day - Narak Chaturdasi:
Lord Krishna killed Narakasura (the son of Hiranyaksha and Bhumi Devi) he stole the 16000 princesses and did generally all manner of bad things. Bhumi requested Krishna to come and kill the demon.
Devotees glorify Krishna as the personification of good, who always triumphs and destroys evil - on this day!!!

Here's some details:

This is the day when Sathyabhama rode with the Lord to the battle at PrakjyOthisha puram, the capital of Naraka-asuran and helped her Lord to put an end to the adharmic - sinful acts of that Asuran. He was a son of Bhumi Devi, but had strayed and committed many offenses against the devotees oft he Lord. The compassionate Mother understood the role of dushta Nigraham of Her Lord and prayed for Her son to be granted Moksham and be remembered on the day of his destruction by the Sudarsanam discus of the Lord.

Outside the slokams of Bhagavatham, the tradition is that she prayed for the pristine waters of Ganga, which arose from the Lord's feet from TrivikramAvatham time to enter into the oil and waters at the home of pious devotees on this day, when they  take the oil bath in hot water during the early morning ( before sunrise ) of this Naraka Chathurthi day. She also prayed for all people to celebrate her son's moksham as a pandigai wearing new clothes and eat special sweets and nourishments. Lord KrishNA granted her wish and thus we celebrate this day of DipAvaLi. We light fire crackers, light lamps and with "sound and light" we celebrate this great deed of the Lord. We go around inquiring our friends and relatives : " GangA SnAnam Aacchaa? " .

This is also the  day, when the Lord brought the PaarijAthA tree from Indra's Nandavanam to please SathyabhAma and planted it in her garden at Dwaraka.


3rd Day - Bhaktasiroman Hanuman - this is where Hanuman is worshipped.

Two days before the main festival of Deepawali is Dhanteras in honour of Dhanwantari, the physician of the gods. He is considered a minor incarnation of Vishnu and arose out of the Ocean of Milk, carrying the pot of amrita, the drink of immortality. He is considered the father of the Indian System of medicine called Ayurveda. Dhanteras is a part of the Deepawali celebrations and not a festival in its own right. People bathe early in the morning and observe a fast, which is broken only after sunset, when the housewife lights an earthen lamp at the gate. New clothes are worn on this day and a new utensil is bought which is kept at the place of worship. (Shakti M Gupta. 1991. Festvals, Fairs and Fasts of India.139-142.)


4th Day - Sri Laxmi Puja:
Lord Vishnu for the first time worhipped Laxmi on this day. What happens is described in the next section on Diwali (Deepawali). Laxmi Puja.

Maha Lakshmi PoojA. This is also the day, when the new year accounts are started by commercial houses and Maha Lakshmi pooja is performed with great ceremony.

Some do KedAra Gauri poojA on this day (Shiva and Parvati pooja). However, Gauri does not mean exclusively Parvathi. It also  means a eight year old Virgin girl. it also means speech, Turmeric and Tulasi. For Sri VaishNavas, it means Bala Lakshmi. KedAram means a meadow rich with water or a collection of water under the trunk of a tree. It is not just a mountain chain in HimAlayAs. Hence, KedArA symbolizes richness or samrutthi or subheeksham. Under this definition, KedAra Gauri Poojaa is then understood as PoojA for the Goddess of Wealth, MahA Lakshmi.

Bhumi Devi's  prayer to the Lord are moving and are housed in the chapter 59 of the Dasama skandham (10th canto).
Here are some illustrative verses :

namasthE devadEvEsa sakha chakra gadhAdhara I
bhakthEccHOpAttha rUpAya ParamAthman namOsthu thE II

(meaning ) : Salutations to Thee , the God of Gods ! sporting the conch, the disc and the mace ! Obesiance to Thee, the supreme Consciousness, who assumest bodies to fulfill the yearnings of Thy devotees !

Nama: PankajanAbhAya Nama: PankajamAlinE I
Nama: PankajanEhtrAya NamasthE PankajaAngrayE II

( meaning ) : Salutations to the Lotus-navelled ! Salutations to the Lotus-garlanded! Salutations to the Lotus eyed ! Salutations to the Lotus-footed !

namO BhagavathE thubhyam VaasudEvAya VishNavE I
PurushAya AdhibheejAya PurNabhOdAya thE nama: I

(meaning ) : I salute VaasudEvA , the support of all ! I salute VishNu, the inner pervader of everything ! I salute Him, who is the ultimate source of everything ! I salute Him, who is All-Intelligence !

AjAya janayithrEasya BrahmaNE ananthasakthayE I
ParaavarAthman BhUthAthman Paramaathman namOsthu thE II

(Meaning ) : Salutations to Him , who manifests both as the cause and the efect! Salutations to Him, who is ever existent ! Salutations to Him , who is the supreme spirit ! Salutations to Him, Who is the Infinite power ! Salutations to Him , who is the greatest being ! Salutations to Him, who is the father of the worlds ! Salutations to Him, who is birthless !

OM NamO BhagavathE VaasudEvAya !

Today and tomorrow even more , all of us can benefit from reciting Sri Sthuthi of Swami Desikan and Sri Sthavam of KurEsa and ChathusslOki  of AlavandhAr . We can also perform aaradhanam to Maha Lakshmi with Lakshmi AshtOttharam or Lakshmi sahasra Naamam .

Those , who do not have the time can at least  recite one slOkam from Sri Sthuthi, which starts with KalyANAnAm avikala nidhi : and receive Her blessings for the year to come !

Om Sriyai Nama:


5th Day - Amavasya, Dipavali - Dipanvita - Damodhar lila happened.
The 14 year period of exile of Lord Rama, Sita and Rama's brother Laxman was completed, and Rama returns to Ayodhya on the Amavasya night. When Lord Rama reached the outskirts of Ayodhya it was on the night of the New Moon Day (Amavasya).The sky was very dark and Sri Rama enacted the pastime that He could not make out the way to His palace. The citizens of Ayodhya hearing of their beloved Lord's return, with hearts full of love lighted rows and rows of oil lamps so that Sri Rama could make his way back safely
to the Palace and resume ruling the kingdom. How fortunate the Ayodhyavasis were, to welcome the Lord who was none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sriman Narayana and His Consort Lakshmi as Sita, the citizens light lamps etc to greet and light the path for the Divine couple's return.

Deepawali or the festival of lights is celebrated during the last days of Ashvina and at the beginning of Karttika, exactly twenty days after Dussehra. It is the main festival of the season. In north India, it is usually called Diwali. This is a composite festival which includes smaller ones as well. See overview of entire period here.

The day before Deepawali is Chhoti Deepawali, a minor Deepawali, when after puja (worship) five lamps are lit at five strategic places in the house: the gateway, the barn, the well, the peeal tree, and the kitchen. Traditionally, these lamps are of earthenware, filled with clariefied butter (ghee) into which cotton wicks are immersed. These days clarified butter has given place to oil or wax. Nowadays more people prefer candles to earthen lamps.

Before the Deepawali season, houses are cleaned and white-washed. One of the main features of the festival is the worship of Lakshmi (Laxmi), the Goddess of Fortune, Beauty, Prosperity and Wealth. Deepawali is celebrated on Amavasya, the darkest night of the month, and houses, shops, places of work, etc., are lit all through the night, least Lakshmi turn her back on a house that is dark. Since she will not enter a dirty place, the residence or the place of work is thoroughly washed and cleaned. Lakshmi has an elder sister called Jyesthaa Devi, who loves squalor and dark and dingy corners. The understanding between the two sisters is that either will not enter a house if the other is present.This custom of cleaning the house may have started in ancient times when it was realised that the hot summer followed by rains made the house musty and encouraged the prevalence of germs (fungal infections, allergies due to mites, etc) By washing the houses with lime water, the germs were killed. It is , till today, a perfect method of disinfecting a house.

On Deepawali night first Lakshmi is worshipped and silver coins are offered to her. Clay figures of Lakshmi, Vishnu and other gods are also worshipped, invoking their blessings. Lighted earthenware lamps decorate the roof, the walls, the doorways, in fact, the entire house. The rows of light apart from making this dark bright and gay, are also meant to welcome the souls of the departed ancestors who visit the family on Deepawali night. In Bengal, lighted torches are fixed on long poles to guide the souls of the departed ancestors.

The lighting of lamps on Deepawali night is so important that even when a family is in mourning and no festivities take place, five lamps are always lit at strategic places in the house. Fireworks and crakers are let off not only for enjoyment but also to scare away evil spirits that wander about on this night.

Deepawali is also celebrated to mark the victory of Rama over Ravana, of good over evil which is the basic theme of the Ramayana. Rama returned home to Ayodhya after fourteen years in exile and was crowned king. Every house in Ayodhya was illuminated to welcome Him. The illuminations symbolise the removal of spiritual darkness from the country and the expression Ram Rajya, the rule of Rama, is synonymous with the perfect rule. (Shakti M Gupta. 1991. Festvals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Pages 142-144.)

On Deepavali Day we may recite the following verses :

For Goddess Lakshmi
lakshmiiM kshiirasamudraraaja tanayaaM shriiraN^gadhaameshvariiM
daasiibhuuta samastadevavanitaaM lokaikadiipaN^kuraam .
shriimanmanda kaTaakshalabdavibhava brahmendra ga.ngaadharaaM
tvaaM trailokya kuTumbiniiM sarasijaaM vande mukundapriyaam

maatarnamaami kamale kamalaayataakshi
shriivishNuhR^itkamala vaasini vishvamaataH .
kshiirodaje kamalakomala garbha gauri
lakshmii ! prasiida satataM namataaM sharaNye

For Sri Rama
aapadaa maartihantaaraM bhiitaanaaM bhiitinaashanam.h .
dvishhataaM kaaladaNDa.n taM raamachandraM namaamyaham.h .. 1 ..

namaH kodaNDahastaaya sandhiikR^ita sharaaya cha .
khaNDitaakhila daityaaya raamaayaapannivaariNe .. 2 ..

raamaaya raamabhadraaya raamachandraaya vedhase .
raghunaathaaya naathaaya siitaayaaH pataye namaH .. 3 ..

agrataH pR^ishhThatashchaiva paarshvatashcha mahaabalau .
aakarNa puurNa dhanvaanau rakshetaaM raamalakshmaNau .. 4 ..

sannaddhaH kavachii khaDgii chaapabaaNadharo yuvaa .
gachchhanmamaagrato nityaM raamaH paatu salakshmaNaH .. 5

After the chanting the Krishna Ashtakam offer Naivedya such as fruits, sweets, rice preparations, milk and offer some Tulasi leaves and flowers by chanting:

"sri seeta lakshmana bharata shatrugna hanumad sametha sri
ramachandra parabrahmane namah:"

We may then show the aarati by waving either a lamp lighted with a ghee soaked wick or camphor and recitethe mangala shloka for the day :

mangalam kosalendraaya mahaneeya gunaapthaye,
chakravarthy tanujaaya saarvabhoumaaya mangalam

followed by

yatra yatra raghunaatha kiirtanaM
tatra tatra kR^itamastakaaJNjalim .

bhaashhpavaari paripuurNa lochanaM
maarutiM namata raakshasaantakam ..

upachaaraa padesena kR^itaan.h ahara harmayaa.
apachaaraani imaan.h sarvaan.h xamasva puruShottamaH

then offer sashtanga namaskaram to the Lord 4 times.

May The Lord shower his blessings on one and all on Deepavali Day

Lord Damodara and the broken pot - Binding on Diwali Day Srimad Bhagavatam 10:9:1-2.

 "Sri Sukadeva Gosvami continued:  One day when mother Yasoda saw that all the maidservants were engaged in other household affairs, she personally began to churn the yogurt.  While churning, she remembered the childish activities of Krsna, and in her own way she composed songs and enjoyed singing to herself about all those activities."(SB 10:9:1-2)


DIWALI FESTIVAL: 10th October. 1968,  (Letter from Srila Prabhupada to Hamsadutta dasa written from Seattle., Letters book Vol 1. p.549.)
    Diwali ceremony can be observed in the temple by illuminating 100's of candles, indifferent parts of the temple, and offering a special Prasad to the Deity. This ceremony was observed by the inhabitants of Ayodhya, the Kingdom of Lord Ramachandra, while Lord Ramachandra was out of His Kingdom due to His 14 years banishment by the order of His father. His younger step-brother Bharat, took charge f the Kingdom and the day on which Lord Ramachandra took back the charge again from His brother, and seated on the throne, this is observed as Diwali, and Deepabali. Deepabali means the same thing - Deepa means candles, and bali means numerous. When numerous candles are lighted it is called Deepabali. In India, this Deepavali function is celebrated in a special auspicious occassion. This Deepabali function can be observed on 21st October, and Prasad can be distributed on 22nd October, during daytime, which is known as Govardhan Puja and Annakuta Ceremony. In India, in all Vaishnava temples, this ceremony is observed and 100's of people are given prasadam according to the capacity of the temple. So I understand that last year the Deepabali ceremony was held in the temple, and there was collection of $130.00. So you can do the needful.
 Hope you are all well. Your Ever Well Wisher. A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami.


Govardhan Puja - Annakut:
New Grains offered as Annadan at this time
The worship of Giri-Govardhan Hill and the cows.

The day after Deepawali is celebrated as Govadhan Puja when Mount Govardhan, near Mathura, is worshipped. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty-four (or 108) different types of food for the bhog (the offering of food) to Krishna. This ceremony is called ankut which means a mountain of food. Various types of food – cereals, pulses, fruit, vegetables, chutneys, pickles, and salads – are offered to the Deity and then distributed as prasada to devotees.

This festival is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Krishna. According to a legend, before Krishna was born, Indra, the god of Rain, was the chief deity of Vraj. Then Krishna instigated the people to stop worshipping Indra. Indra wanted to show his power over Krishna and brought about a cloud-burst which flooded the countryside for many days. People were afraid that the downpor was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. He lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and beasts from the rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna. (Shakti M Gupta. 1991. Festvals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Pages 145-146.)

Go to Govardhan puja page(s) now:


Bhaidhuj: (Bali-Daityaraj-Puja)
When Lord Vamandev was pleased with Bali maharaj and appeared in Vishnu-rupa, Bali asked a boon that Lord Vishnu would be on every door at Patalaloka because in Nether regions Bali wants his society Lord Vishnu agrees and goes to become a Dwarpalaka of Bali. Narad tells Laxmi where Lord Vishnu is. Laxmi plays trick on Bali - she goes to Bali as a poor woman seeking help - with her she takes raksha bandan. She says to Bali that she doesn't have a brother - and would dearly like one. When the raksha bandan is tied the brother has to offer her something. Bali asked Laxmi what he can give her, Laxmi replied that you have my everything in your service - please release Lord Vishnu.

As Yama's sister is Yamuna and she fed Yama to his satifaction he said that from now on any brother who visits thesister on Bhaidhuj day will escape the hand of Yamaraj - the sister prays for her brother.

Brother goes to sister's house – the very best of foods are cooked, and then the sister feeds brother.

There is another significance to this day culturally: The last festival associated with Deepawali is Bhaya Dhuja, popularly called Tikka in Punjab. In Vedic times, it was called Bhartri-dwitiya. Two days after Deepawali, women and girls apply saffron and rice grains to the foreheads of their brothers to protect them from evil and to wish them long life and prosperity. The brothers in turn give the sisters presents. In Uttara Pradesh and Harayana, the tikka is usually a paste of vermilion with rice grains in it.

A red mark on the forehead is reminiscent of Shiva's third eye and is believed to keep the evil away and thus protect the wearer. With constant wars in North India, the custom of applying a tilak to the forehead of men going to war assumed an aided significance. Mothers, wives and sisters applied tilak to the men to protect them from harm. (Shakti M Gupta. 1991. Festvals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Page 146.)

Yama Dwitiya:
During the month of Karttika, the business community observes Yama-dwitiya by worshipping Yama, the god of Death, his scribe Chitragupta, his messanger Yamaduta, Ganapati and the river Yamuna. Om this occasion, the royal seal, the pen and the inkpot are also worshipped. Sisters prepare food for their brothers and, if the brother has this food sitting on the banks of the river Yamuna, on Yama-dwitiya day, it is believed to give him and his sister’s husband a long life.

Yama and Yami, goddess spirit of the river Yamuna, were twins born to Surya, the Sun god and his wife Samjna. According to a legend, Yama was lame and the cause of this disability was a curse pronounced on him by his step-mother, Chhaaya. Samjna, finding the effulgence of her husband Surya excessive, went away and in her place left her shadow Chhaaya. The physical likeness between Sa,jna and Chhaaya was so marked, that Surya had no reason to suspect her. One day Yama kicked his step-mother Chhaaya for being partial to her own children. At this Chhaaya cursed him and said that the leg that kicked her would be full of worms. Surya heard the curse and, realising that a mother would never curse her own children, suspected the identity of Chhaaya and went in search of his real wife, Samjna.

Yami, Yama’s twin sister, was transformed into the sacred river Yamuna in whose purifying waters people bathe on holy days. Yama was given an equally important role and made the god of Death, whom all fear. (Shakti M Gupta. 1991. Festvals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Page 146.)


Restricting our eating for last month of Chaturmasya; no non-vegetarian foods (which for this period includes urad dahl, masoor dahl etc) See more on vratas during Chaturmasya HERE.
Singing the Damodarastakam for the pleasure of Lord Damodar
Offering lamps for the Lord's pleasure (as mentioned in the Diwali section above)

See EVERYTHING related to the festivals and observances in the month of Kartik - Damodar HERE

A nice overview; an 18 days Guide, from Dhan Teras to Deva Divali:

Karva Chauth

Karva Chauth, also known as Karaka Chaturthi is a fast undertaken by the married and the soon-to-be married Hindu women who offer prayers seeking the welfare, prosperity, well-being, and longevity of their husbands. Karva Chauth falls about nine days before diwali on the Kartik ki Chauth, the fourth day of the dark moon (Krishna chaturthi), some time in October or November. It is the most important fast observed by the women of North India. A woman keeps such a fast for the well-being of her husband, who becomes her protector after she leaves her parents home. Her husband provides her with food, shelter, clothing, respectability, comfort and happiness.
   This is indeed a very tough fast to observe as it starts before sunrise and ends after sighting and then simply worshipping the moon, which usually rises at about 8.45 p.m. or so.

No food or water is to be taken after 4 a.m. or after sunrise. Nowadays, this fast is kept even in modern educated homes, becoming a symbol of the sentiment that a woman has for her husband. They do not drink water the whole day and the fast is broken only after the moon is sighted through a sieve. The woman touches the feet of her husband and he gives her water and food.

The preparation for the puja should be started at about 4 or 5 p.m. Someone older, who is willing, or the housewife herself as the situation demands, prepares a suitable place in the puja room, in case it is a big room which can accommodate all the women who have been invited for the baya; otherwise the best place is a verandah or the open courtyard, since generally the weather is not cold during this season (in the northern hemisphere).

   A sari (in the baya) is a must for the first Karva Chauth of a girl. One thing to be taken care of is that the baya reaches the girl's in-laws home, where the girl has gone during the course of the day, before the evening. The baya is given to the mother-in-law after the manasna. If the mother-in-law is not present, then the eldest lady in the house is presented with the baya. Sometimes, the elder one chooses to take only the perishable items, and leaves cash and clothes for the mother-in-law.

This traditional fast bestows happiness and well being of the children too. According to a belief, on this day Sateyvan, who had died at an early age was restored to life by God Yama, at the lamentations and impressive arguing of Savitri, Sateyvan's wife.

In some places, Siva and Parvati are worshipped on this day. The only aim of this fast is to save the husband from an untimely death and have a long married life. After ablution and other daily necessities, and after taking bath in the early morning, before sunrise, women should undertake a vow for the welfare of the husband, sons, and grandsons. Siva, Parvati, Kartikeya, Ganesha and the moon (Chandrama) are worshipped. Their blessings are invoked. After worship, rice, black gram pulse auspicious articles viz. comb, mirror, vermillion, bangles, ribbon, etc. are put on a copper plate or on an earthern plate, along with fruits and kept ready till the fast is broken, after seeing the moon. the fast is to be observed without even taking water.

It is a day of celebration and decoration. On the eve of this festival, the markets are full of women preparing for it. Mehndi stalls are set up in every corner of the market, Bindi's, Red bangles and different  types of cosmetics are sold everywhere. Mother-in-laws buy 'sargi' for their daughter-in-laws (after all they are going to be praying for their son's long and healthy life!) This 'sargi' consists of various types of sweetmeats, and sometime clothes. All these items are supposed to bring good luck to the women.

There is great festivity on this day. Early in the morning, before sunrise, the women bathe and gather to eat the sweetmeats. They pray to Shiva and Parvati, hoping that their married life would be as successful as theirs.

In the afternoon, mothers of newly wed girls give  'Baya'  to the  parents of their son-in-law.

This Baya contains few Mathris, Almonds, and some gifts. In every neighbourhood women gather together to perform a puja and to recite the story of 'Karva Chauth'. Most women are dressed in beautiful red or pink clothes and in traditional Jewellery.

    The puja place is decorated with kharia matti, which has been soaked in water two to three hours earlier, and takes a semi-liquid form. A chowk like in any other puja - is decorated on the floor. This whole chowk should be placed against a wall on one side, where a similarly decorated patta is kept, on which the Gaur Mata is seated. The Gaur Mata used to be made with cowdung in the shape of a human figure, just about two inches tall. Nowadays, a picture or an idol of Parvati is placed on the patta.'just about an hour or so before moonrise, those who have observed the vrat, dress up again in their chunris or in red or pink clothes with chonp and bindi on their foreheads. Everyone now gathers around the place where a carpet or durrie is spread over the leaving space for the puja items.

Then a small pooja to Gaura Ma or goddess Parvati is performed. Married women sit around Gaura ma and pray to her for the well being and long life of their husbands. A small pitcher or Karva with some water is placed in the centre. While the story is being narrated, ladies circulate their Baya thalis.

The baya of individual is kept on a thaali, over the karva, with a little water and seven pieces of pua in it (seven broken from one big pua). The karva itself is dee with kharia, aipun and a little roli .A strand of (red thread) of any thickness is tied around the part of the karva. The top cover is also decorated in the thaali is placed on the cover. The women sit facing the and one elder member (there is no taboo on widow the family narrates the story and does the chanting, each woman doing the puja. This is known as man which means to give away and never take back. First of all, roll teeka is applied on the forehead of Gaur before the start of the puja. All the women doing puja also apply roli teeka - tilak on their foreheads and parting (known as maang). Everyone does pujan by dipping the third finger of the right hand in water sprinkling it with the help of the thumb three time the deity; the same procedure has to be repeated aipun and roli and, lastly, the rice is showered. depicts the bathing of the deity, decoration with a putting of the teeka with roli and, lastly, worship the deity with rice.

After the puja this thali is given to the eldest member of the family who blesses the woman with all the happiness in life.

Moonrise is eagerly awaited and everyone in the family keeps a lookout for it. Once the moon is sighted, women gather on the terrace and offer prayers to the moon 7 times. They pray for their husband's and family's welfare. Then they have a sip of water and in this way the fast comes to an end.

In the evening, all married women, dressed in gorgeous wedding garments and jewellery, undertake worship. As the moon rises, they bow down at the feet of their husbands and give the decorated plate with fruit and other material to their mother in law. This festival deepens the relation between the wife, the husband and the mother in law. In a legend in the region now known as Maharashtra, once Arjun went for worship in Nilgiri Hilllls. Draupadi, believing that there was none to protect her in the horror stricken forest, invoked Krishna. On the appearance of Krishna, Draupadi explained her problem. Krishna explained that once Parvati had expressed such a suspicion before Shiva.

The latter had then said that for a house wife, the fast on Kartik Krishna Chaturthi was a remedy for such apprehensions. Krishna further told Draupadi that once upon a time, there was a Brahmin, who had seven sons and one daughter. Being the only daughter she was married with great pomp and show. On the Karva Chauth day, she undertook the fast, but before the rise of the moon she felt hungry.

Seeing the pathetic condition of their only sister, the loving brothers asked her to break the fast, but she did not agree. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Pipal tree leaves. The sister, taken it as moon rise, broke the fast and took food. Surprisingly, her husband died. The daughter started crying. Per chance, Indrani, the sister of Indra, was passing by with her maids. Hearing the cries, she came to the weeping woman and asked her tale of sorrow. Then she adviced that she should undertake the fast on every fourth day of the month, for one year and undertake the Karva Chauth fast under strict rituals, then only her husband would come to life. Doing so, the daughter relivened her husband back to life. Narrating this story, Krishna consoled Draupadi and advised her to observe Karva Chauth fast and assured her about the ultimate victory of Pandavas.

In Uttar Pradesh, on Karva Chauth, the married women make idols of elephant (Indra's Iravat) and worship it, after seeing the moon. Also in Uttar Pradesh, women decorate the entrance walls of their home with drawings of Gauri Ma, the moon and the sun. The evening puja is done with diyas - lamps and a 'karva' pot made of mud. Before looking at the moon, the women pray to the figurines at their doorstep.

In Rajasthan, the women make 'Karvas' with mud containers, filled with rice and wheat. Most women wear their wedding day 'chunris' on this occasion. In Gujarat also many women observe this fast. In Madhya Pradesh most of them follow the traditions of the women from Uttar Pradesh.

In all these states the first 'Karva Chauth' of any new bride, or bride to be, it is a very important festival. New clothes, new Jewellery and gifts from both mother and mother-in-law are received. The wedding day outfits are worn once again, mehndi is applied and the family gathers to celebrate it with them.


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